Looking back at ‘after the pregnancy’ photos of me with my first-born, you can see the maternal glow… and also the thought bubble hovering above my head, which reads, “And what the Very Hell do I do now?”
I think most mums are familiar with that mix of unbridled joy and utter terror. Not only do you have a tiny individual who depends on you (YOU!!!) for everything, there’s the shock of your ‘after the pregnancy’ body, the realisation that you will not have a full night’s sleep for months, and the awareness that lots of things you associate with freedom – nights out, lazy holidays, lie-ins, popping to the shops on your own, having an exercise routine (actually, any routine) – well, they are all ON HOLD, ‘til further notice.
Body wise, here are just some of the things that come as a total shock:
• You have huge breasts: To anyone for whom this is a novelty, it may sound like a positive to suddenly be well endowed in the chest department. But unfortunately those newly curvy assets will probably hurt like hell as your body tries to regulate the amount of breast milk it needs to produce. You may hear the most seemingly ludicrous ideas suggested to you for relieving the pain – “rub a cabbage leaf on them, dear!” – and you will find yourself hopefully buying a Savoy… (you’re that desperate!). After a while, your breasts will normalise and those rounded plumpies are yours for as long as you continue to nurse (yay!). I’m not going to burst the bubble just now on how they look when you stop though… :(
• After the pregnancy, you will still ‘look pregnant’: Forget slipping into your skinny jeans the morning after giving birth, your body usually needs about nine months to resume its pre-pregnancy shape. For the first few weeks, your skin and abdominal muscles remain stretched and saggy and your uterus is still about the size of a cantaloupe melon. The sight of your wobbly, protruding mid-section may come as a shock. Will your tummy ever be the same again? Best advice: pull on some comfy clothes and focus your gaze on your new baby instead of your body (which will look better every day until it’s almost good-as-new!).
• Hair today, gone tomorrow! When you’re pregnant, hormones do wondrous things, like increasing the lifespan of your hair follicles. This means you lose a lot less hair than usual when you’re with child… contributing to that wonderful glossy pregnancy mane! The only problem is that, after the baby is born, many of your follicles expire at once. You may notice more hair on your brush and even a thin spot or bald patch on your scalp. Don’t worry, it’s only a temporary blip – and your tresses will grow back normally afterwards.
• Your Lady Bits will look different . Putting a mirror to your nether regions might be the last thing on your mind. But, for the curious, there may be a few surprises in store. Your cervix and vagina widen during delivery and might not ever ping back fully. Where once your labia (lips) covered the vaginal opening, they will now most likely be parted. If you’ve had stitches, you might notice that the look and feel of this part of your body has changed. (For Post-C-Section Considerations, click here). But, different isn’t always bad. Sometimes, it really is just ‘different’.
There may be a few delights yet to come … (more on “Your Post Pregnancy Body| What’s Normal?’ here)
• Post-partum bleeding lasts 4-6 weeks – the maternity pads you start off with seem to be the size of a brick, but you can gradually downscale to normal sanitary towels.
• It might be hard to pass a stool (the last thing you want to do is more pushing!) – drinking lots of water can help with this.
• You might get piles – yup, haemorrhoids are unlikely to be mentioned in any magazine features about new celeb mums, but even A-listers get them. It’s a common gripe and usually only temporary!
• Things might get sweaty at night as your body flushes out any fluids that have built up over pregnancy… expect damp sheets for a few days.
• You will probably be Jekyll and Hyde in equal doses as you wrestle a range of emotions: relief, euphoria, anxiety, shock and exhaustion.
All of the above are temporary challenges that you will face; all will be forgotten as you continue your motherhood journey. ‘After the pregnancy’ is basically the start of the rest of your life: the bit where you’re a mum.
The way your body looks and feels after childbirth is just one part of one fleeting phase. To stay positive, it helps to have a long-term view: “I will get my body back, when I’m ready… I will not feel uncomfortable forever. My body has not ‘let me down’. These are normal processes and I will just ride them out. For now, it is me and my baby’s time. For now, I will relish being a mum! There will be plenty of time to piece myself back together and find my mojo.” If you’re ready for that mojo-finding adventure right now, you’re in the right place. MUTU System is ready to help you.